It's the soaring falsetto, the intricate layers of looping, the orchestral bombast of Kishi Bashi that draw you in. It's the fact that this wall of electronic-infused feelings is created by a single man that keeps you enthralled.
Having already served as string connoisseur for the likes of Regina Spektor and Of Montreal, it's no surprise Kaoru Ishibashi (Kishi Bashi) is the magician behind this one man band. On Friday night, surrounded by a cloud of smoke and eager singers-along, the magic was in full force.Performing most of his full-length debut, 151a, alongside selections from his 2011 EP, Room For Dream, Ishibashi's set was a joyful mix of plucking and thumping and effects-heavy loops. And while it's safe to say the most jaw-dropping aspect of Ishibashi's show comes in his ability to recreate the songs as a solo act, the addition of a touring band proved a welcome surprise.
Bringing in to the fold tour mates Elizabeth Ziman and Mike Savino (opener, Tall Tall Trees), Ishibashi's celestial blend of strings, beat-boxing and pitch-bending loop effects felt richer and more robust with their backing.
Constantly keeping the fans on their toes, Kishi Bashi's songs have the special quality of being filled with heartbreak and sorrow as well as sparkly wonder, at the exact same time. It's this juxtaposition - a recipe that finds the listener dreaming of sugar and spice, while fully aware something darker is just around the corner - that gives Ishibashi's songs life.
And while each track proved a complex audible journey, high points came in "Atticus in the Desert" and "I Am the Antichrist to You," the latter of which proved a mellow, almost morose love ballad. Another triumph came in a newer track called "Philosophize It, Chemicalize It," an upbeat number Ishibashi was quick to note is already a top seller in Japan - and featured in a commercial.
As a whole, Ishibashi's set was near perfect, the only misstep being the accidental looping of an unsuppressed cough. Even then, the musician used the hack as a source of inspiration - playing alongside the unexpected recording before burying it under another layer of sound.